My friends have not tormented me with condolences, for as one of them wrote me, the grief that had befallen me was beyond the reach of human consolation. There are few indeed who lose a friend by death, and a betrothed wife by madness, in one terrible night. My fidelity, it is said, is most pathetic, to her who is hopelessly lost to me, for though years have passed by, I am still so devoted to her memory, that no other woman has claimed a moment of my attention. And my sister who is rather sentimental in her expressions, declares that the love I had for Amy drained my nature dry. I think she is possibly right.
The room was filled with a blue haze of tobacco smoke, and I had made all of it, for Callender, it seemed to me, had foresworn most of his old habits. He used not once to lie back languidly in a lounging-chair, neither smoking, nor talking, nor drinking punch, when a chum came to see him. Indeed, after the first effervescence of our meeting, natural after a separation of four years, had subsided, I found such a different Tom Callender from the one who had wrung my hand in parting on the deck of the Marius, that I had indulged in sundry speculations, and I studied him attentively beneath half-closed lids, as I apparently watched the white rings from my cigar melt into the air.
Where, precisely, was the change? It was hard to say. The long, thin figure was nerveless in its poses; the slender brown hand that had had a characteristic vigor, lying listlessly open on the arm of his chair, no longer looked capable of a tense, muscular grasp of life; the slightly elongated oval of the face, with its complexion and hair like the Japanese, was scarcely more hollowed or lined than before, but it had lost that expression of expectation, which is one of the distinctive marks of youth in the face. He had been politely attentive to my experiences in Rio Janeiro, with which I have no doubt I bored him unutterably, but when I asked about old friends, or social life, he lapsed into the indifference of the man for whom such things no longer exist: reminiscence did not interest him. I asked him about the plays now on at the leading theatres—he had not seen them; about the new prima donna—he had not heard her. Finally I broke a long silence by picking up a book from the table at my side. “Worth reading?” I asked, nibbling at it here and there. (It was a novel, with “Thirty-fifth thousand” in larger letters than the title on the top of its yellow cover.) As I spoke, a peculiar name, the name of a character on the leaf I was just turning, brought suddenly to my mind one of the few women I had known who bore it.
“By the way, Callender,” I said animatedly, striking down the page that had recalled her with my finger, “What has become of your little blue-stocking friend? Don’t you know—her book was just out when I sailed,—’On Mount Latmos,’—’On Latmos Top,’—what was it?”